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Is “Content is King” a Load of Crap?

July 7th, 2008 by Bob Bly

Gurus like David Meerman Scott say that giving consumers lots of useful content is the key to marketing success — at least in the 21st century.

But something Tim Sanders says in his book “The Likeability Factor” (Crown Publishers, 2005) seems to contradict that belief.

Says Sanders:

?There?s too much information in today?s world, and our defense mechanism to sort through it all is to vote with our gut, to vote what we feel. We look for shortcuts, and those shortcuts are called brands. The reason you buy Tide detergent at the grocery store is that you don?t want to read fifty labels. You trust Tide because you already know it works.?

We’ve heard this comment before, of course.

It basically boils down to: the consumer is time pressured, overloaded with information, and too busy to read — which seems on the surface to be an accurate description of the harried pace of modern life.

But if it’s true, then how can content-based marketing work?

If people are too busy to read, then won’t they throw your white paper in the trash … or click away from your content-rich site long before they can dig into all the great information you posted there?

Who is right? Sanders, who says we don’t want more content to make decisions? Or Scott, who says we do?


This entry was posted on Monday, July 7th, 2008 at 2:13 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

39 responses about “Is “Content is King” a Load of Crap?”

  1. Lou Wasser said:

    A shopper in a grocery store or supermarket approaches the printed “content” on a box of Tide with a different mind-set and level of expectation than does a reader who requests a white paper.

    Sanders’s generalization is much too sweeping to include any paper (or cardboard)that happens to have words printed on it.

  2. Peter George said:

    Brand has served a purpose since the Quaker Oats box first appeared on shelves. However, I’m not convinced that brand is all that matters. I still believe that consumers want to be informed when making a purchase. In the case of Tide, just seeing the name on the box may be enough information. But if I’m deciding between buying a Mercedes or a BMW, I am going to want several kinds of content and most likely in the amount commensurate with the purchase.

  3. Amy Bucklin said:

    Brands can only serve as shortcuts after the brand has been built, via advertising, word of mouth, and — you guessed it — killer content that builds trust.

    People may not read all the content on your site, but just having it there for them to see builds credibility (and helps your SEO ranking, which helps to build your brand).

  4. Elizabeth Adams said:

    Hello, Bob …

    Well, there’s content, and then there’s content.

    For instance:

    When I went to look up in Amazon the book you mentioned by Tim Sanders, I sailed right past the publisher’s blurb and went straight to the readers’ comments at the bottom of the page.

    In other words, I’m on your blog, I see you mentioning a book, I say to myself, “Hmmmm,” and then I go straight into action seeking what is, in effect, a second opinion.

    What’s more, I read every word of what the first three readers had to say about it. If I’d been about to buy it, I probably would have read more; but, as I was just trying to familiarize myself with what you were talking about, I truncated it at three.

    Now, I’m a reader, as it happens, but suppose I weren’t. Suppose I don’t like to read. Does that mean I don’t like to learn?

    Not necessarily. And very probably just the opposite!

    It’s like this:

    If I’m interested in what you have to say, then I will not only read but re-read every word. Or re-play the audio or the video, as the case may be. Or sit in your webinar room absorbing as many of your pearls of wisdom as I can and hope to God you’ll make a recording of them available so I can fill in the blank spaces in my notes!

    As far as “giving consumers lots of useful content [being] the key to marketing success … in the 21st century” is concerned, I would have to say that, as a Regular Person, I so seldom find the kind of information I’m looking for that yes, if you provide me this thing that Scott is pleased to call “useful content,” then I’m going to bless your buttons and gobble it up and come back for more and make my purchasing decisions accordingly.

    Unfortunately, for some reason I don’t understand — maybe to save a buck by outsourcing it overseas ??? — most of what I find masquerading under the name of “content” is just so much anemic mush.

    So if the sentence is to read “giving consumers lots of anemic mush is the key to marketing success in the 21st century,” then yeah, I guess I might be driven in sheer desperation to seek out some “trustworthy” brands.

    But somehow I don’t think so.

    I don’t know about anybody else here, but I don’t reach for Tide because I’m so busy and so overwhelmed by so much information that I need a defense mechanism so I pick a brand I know instead of research one I don’t.

    Definitely not!

    Especially not when it comes to something like laundry detergent!

    Why, just last week I finally unearthed an economical source of powdered hydrogen peroxide so I could have a safe and healthy alternative to chlorine bleach!

    And let me tell you something else:

    It wasn’t easy to find the information I was looking for. It never is, when you’re bucking the system … when you’re doing something like searching for “green” alternatives in a world so laden with products so poisonous it’s a wonder we’re all still walking around.

    So if the sentence is to read “giving consumers lots of the good stuff is the key to marketing success in the 21st century,” then with a huge sigh of relief I would unequivocally agree that you are absolutely right.

    And by “the good stuff” I do not mean content which, on the surface of it, appears to be “the good stuff.” Appearances can be deceiving. That’s what appearances are for!

    No, I mean content that actually is “the good stuff.”

    And we all know what “the good stuff” is when we’re lucky enough to come across it.

    Regards, Elizabeth …

    P.S. Brian Clark of puts it this way:

    “Modern marketing is not about market share, it’s about share of customer. When you teach someone something new, you’re naturally expanding your market share in that customer, because new knowledge allows people to explore the benefits of knowledge, which you can help them explore with additional offers.”


  5. Bob Bly said:

    Amy: does content as a marketing tool apply to all product categories? I don’t think I’ve read any content on Chicken of the Sea chunk white tuna, but that’s the brand I buy. Why? Probably because of (a) the brand and (b) the taste.

  6. Amy Bucklin said:


    No, I agree with Peter that most people don’t need content when deciding to purchase Tide, but they may when choosing between a Mercedes or BMW.

    That said, there are many people who buy higher-priced products (Apple computers, BMWs, etc.) based on brand, rather than reading content. But those brands were originally built using content in some form. I may have heard about the new iPhone from my friend, but she read two articles and did some online research.

    If Sanders is right, how can any new brands ever be successful?

    I’m in the store buying detergent and see a new brand, I’m likely to take the time to read the label (if the content is compelling enough) and compare it to my usual brand.

    To me, the best approach is to provide plenty of useful content, but organize it in a way that people can quickly find the key points that are most important to them and ignore what they don’t need.

  7. Ken Norkin - freelance copywriter said:

    Amy’s closing paragraph perfectly distills what David Meerman Scott means about offering useful content — as explained in “The New Rules of Marketing & PR.” It’s not about bombarding information-overloaded consumers with even more content. It’s about using content to make yourself findable on the Web by consumers looking for information about the things you sell and do — especially when they’re not looking for you by name.

    And because this big place is called the Web, content can spread and make all kinds of connections that can lead people back to you from unexpected directions. For example, I assume Bob wrote his post because he was exposed to content about Scott’s book. That post and this whole discussion become searchable content that can lead people back to Scott if they’re searching for information on him or his writings.

    But it’s also possible that people searching for what others are saying about “conent” will find this blog and perhaps end up at Scott’s site — or the sites of any of us who have posted here. Or maybe they’ll stay and read more about Bob. People could also end up visiting our sites if Scott posts a link to this blog under a “What People Are Saying” heading.

    Obviously, once people reach your site, it needs to be easy for them to find information related to why they came there in the first place.

  8. Ken Norkin - freelance copywriter said:

    I hate typos. Especially mine. Of course I meant “content.”

  9. David Fideler / Core Message Analysis said:

    Hi Bob,

    The problem with what Tim Sanders says is that he’s confusing apples with oranges, and then saying that only apples exist!

    When people use the word “branding,” there is a lot of confusion, and in many ways it has become a somewhat meaningless term because no one knows what you are talking about. But if clearly defined, as in “brand voice,” etc., it’s still useful and understandable.

    The problem here is that Tim Sanders is talking about “consumer brands,” and when you talk about B2B, it’s an entirely different ballgame.

    In the B2B world it’s good to have a brand identity and uniform brand voice, but that’s entirely different from consumer branding.

    Effective B2B marketing strategies are based on the real value that a company offers, and that is communicated by *content*. For consumer items, like laundry detergent, most of the products are identical, so the “brand” is an invented *personality* that differentiates it from other products.

    In the end, consumer branding is ultimately more superficial, but it can work. Is a Bounty paper towel REALLY “the quicker picker upper”? Who knows? But in an impulse-buy situation, it can work well.

    As you yourself have written, “If the product isn’t different, what attributes can be stressed that haven’t been stressed that haven’t been stressed by the competition?” That is the essence of consumer branding — and it has nothing to do with content. In essence, it’s a less desirable fall back position.

    B2B purchases are not, for the most part, impulse buys, but carefully considered purchases. That’s where content comes in, and a company’s reputation (either real or perceived).

    Some writers have argued persuasively that reputation is more important in the B2B space than branding, and I agree with that. In the end, with B2B companies, it’s not the image that you project, but the real value that you deliver.


  10. Bob Bly said:

    David: Everything you say makes sense. But….

    Decades ago, RCA attempted to compete with IBM mainframes. They failed. Their marketing materials provided prospects with plenty of technical content proving that the RCA mainframe was a technically superior,differentiated computer.

    But it didn’t sell, even though customers agreed it had more bells and whistles, and superior price/performance.

    Why not? Recall the old saying in IT: “Nobody ever got fired for buying an IBM computer that didn’t work.” The IBM name meant trust, comfort, safety, and confidence. Isn’t that a clear case of brand or image trumping content and real value?

  11. Jim Logan said:

    The key is “useful content”, which most content isn’t.

  12. Bob Bly said:

    Jim: Is it really difficult to produce “useful content”? If so, why can I hire freelance writers on to write content for my site at $25 per article? Would you agree that copywriting is difficult, but content writing is much easier and simpler?

  13. Ken Norkin - freelance copywriter said:


    Reis and Trout would probably have said that RCA’s failure in mainframes was probably a problem of positioning — and, by extension, branding. Decades ago RCA was primarily known for TVs, a record label and maybe appliances (RCA Whirlpool). This isn’t to say that they couldn’t or didn’t make a great or even superior mainframe. But as Reis and Trout maintained, the typical customer’s mind only has slots for a few brands in each category. In the era you’re probably talking about, those few slots for “mainframe computer” were probably occupied by IBM, Sperry/Univac and maybe someone else — but not RCA.

    The corollary to few brands per category is few categories per brand. Anybody bought a Xerox computer lately?

    Since the RCA name didn’t mean computer to their prospective customers, they needed “useful content” in their marketing literature, advertising and one-to-one sales message that explained why it should. But not the feature-oriented bells and whistles message you mentioned. They needed — and presumably failed — to address what our clients today like to call “the business case” for buying the RCA computer. What business objective is this machine going to fulfill better than that other one? What problem is it going to solve?

    In my view, IBM’s brand standing for trust, comfort, safety, and confidence — admittedly intangibles — supports IBM as the better choice for the business case, because buyers could trust that machines from the leader in mainframes would do what was promised and that IBM would be there for a long time to make sure they did.

    This all gets back to the point of an earlier post: useful content speaks to the customer’s needs in the customer’s language.

    RCA mainframes may well have offered “superior price/performance.” But it was a mistake to try selling that if it wasn’t what customers were buying.

  14. Bob Bly said:

    The branding was so incongruent for RCA computers that several DP managers in those days told me: “What idiot would spend a million dollars buying a mainframe from a company whose logo is a dog listening to a victrola?”

  15. owen frager said:

    I know where Meerman is coming from and also why most don’t get it.

    Let me try to give an example:
    Everyone applauds Apple’s 1984 Super Bowl spot as and advertising triumph. It was entertaining but as Ogilvy said, “it’s not creative if it doesn’t sell.”

    Little known truth is that the early Apple adapters like me were personally touched by the kind of content and information that is being sought on the web today, but not necessarily available by visiting a brand site.

    For example, in 1984 an invitation came with the promise: “You Can Do Anything If You Set Your Macintosh to it.” It argued that you take an hour for lunch, so why not lunch with us and let customers show you the possibilities.

    I never again experienced an event as powerful as this where customers from a variety of industries stood up and showcased what the MAC had done to impact their business and results.

    I’ll never forget it because included was USA Today who had transformed print with color and digital tools. The shuttle had just crashed and they demonstrated how they created the art and co-coordinated the story so fast.

    The people in that room, Marcom managers from Silicon Valley’s biggest firms, were influenced not by corporate marketing poop, but by peer to peer success stories which then sparked discussion over lunch with strangers at a table, brainstorming all of the possibilities. Customers became product ambassadors, a surrogate sales force and brand champions.

    Even though most in attendance had never met, they immediately bonded over common challenges and passions. This is what is known online as a community of interest. Created in meetings like this city-to-city, and kept connected online by email and forums using the very Apple tools that most of the world is first discovering today.

    The key piece of takeaway collateral- that influenced far more sales then any Super Bowl spot- was a 26 page proof of possibilities piece that was not created by the famed agencies, but by a rookie who had never used a computer and was tasked with figuring it out and then telling the world what she learned.

    Fast forward to 2007. The ATT, old world agency, makes a cute iPhone spot featuring Lucy and others. Creative, but did it make anyone want to eat the remainder of their cell plan to trade-up?

    Then comes an agency change and a simple spot that demonstrates as it explains. Before it was ever on air, it was showcased and discussed on blogs, virally passed around via YouTube and at every turn readers, analysts, enthusiasts… enhanced the message with their own observations, comments from others and links to other helpful insight that one might never find on their own.

    How much content on Apple’s site was visited or read in all those iPhone decisions?

    Chances are if they visited the store, a bored salesmen like at Circuit City doesn’t need to ask “can I help you” and then ramble about speeds and feeds… because the customer showing up at the Apple store is predisposed to buy, informed and will have specific questions that need to be addressed.

    At Circuit City they will give a reason to buy Dell because they are big, and more people have them then Apple including the top corporations.

    At Apple, it’s not about selling them; it’s about addressing what they can do for you.

    Take a look at, a site I visit every day. More people learn about Apple from sites like this and those they introduce you to then by showing up at the door of and expecting to sift through all the content to find what you need.

    A quick glance at the headlines determine where and how to invest precious time. And by subscribing to topics of interest on RSS feeds, these headlines come right to your mailbox and the only content that matters is the headline and the value proposition that shows in the preview pane.

    So… it’s not about filling sites with $25 articles. But about savvy digital Sherpas engaging the rare and never-more-relevant-then-now sales-driven copy skills of the Norkins and Blys of the world. Not to create mounds of content but to apply selectively and strategically to competitive advantage.

  16. Dianna Huff said:


    You hit on it. You can tell the $25 articles — the Internet is full of them. No passion in them.

    I hate going into big box stores like Best Buy because the salespeople are very pushy, but one day I walked into an Apple store to see what all the “hype” was about. The sales guy (or rather, kid) was very nice and answered all my questions about the various types of iPods. I walked out with one and have been sold on the “Apple” experience ever since.

  17. Bob Bly said:

    Owen’s post is a good reminder that content is communicated via 4 methods, and different prospects prefer different modes: 1. Experiential (events), 2. Written (print and online pages), 3. Audio (podcasts, seminars), 4. Video (streaming video online, DVD). Successful marketers use multiple modes because you never know which mode a given prospect prefers.

  18. Elizabeth Adams said:

    Hello, Diana …

    You wrote … “You can tell the $25 articles — the Internet is full of them. No passion in them.”


    Let’s have more of what Aurora Brown calls “meaty, focused writing with a point, opinion, purpose and attitude that speaks to users and makes them vote for or link to it.”

    The trouble with all this $25 “commoditized content” is that it’s so …


    Regards, Elizabeth …


  19. Bob Bly said:

    Elizabeth: I read the Aurora post you linked to. But I am not sure she is right about Google, at least not yet. While users reject commoditized content as crap, search engines still seem to rank sites that contain it highly because the articles have the right key words.

    How do you differentiate articles? Meaty content is not enough. The article should be written authoritatively. If the article is written and bylined from an expert, readers will pay greater attention and take it more seriously. I can write a hamburger recipe as well as Rachel Ray can, but no one is coming to me for cooking advice.

  20. Dianna Huff said:

    Elizabeth and Bob — You have come full circle. The point of David Meerman Scott’s argument is not to write crap content that gets high search engine rankings. It’s to connect with buyers, prospects, and customers.

    Anyone can write optimized crap. Few people can write great content that resonates with buyers.

  21. Elizabeth Adams said:

    Hello, Bob …

    Well, that’s right. Search engines are still trying to figure out how to detect what you and I might call “real” content. It’s my understanding that one of the directions they’re taking in that department is following and measuring what people do *after* they view it … do they comment? trackback? vote? link? email? … “off-page factors,” in other words, in addition to on-page keyword “optimization” … although it doesn’t seem to be the keywords that are the problem so much as all the rest of the words. So much of the time, they just don’t seem to really *say* anything.

    I actually had a bird’s-eye example of this in my own life recently when I got a request for permission to translate one of the articles on my website, “Writing Articles With Style – Create Quality Articles With CSS,” from — of all places — Serhiy Onoshko, CEO of in Russia. He said he thought “it would be a good addition to our articles directory at” and that “it was large enough (2,258 words) and contained specific and deep info (unlike many articles we review).”

    Note: My website has been hacked and is being rebuilt right now, so if you want to see a copy of what he was talking about, you’ll have to go to EzineArticles.

    Translation into Russian doesn’t necessarily mean that the article itself is any more interesting than any of the other $25 articles we’ve been talking about, but it probably does qualify as one of those “off-page” factors I mentioned above.

    And you’re probably right about the hamburger thing, too. I’m sure if I were some clever cove over at WebmasterWorld, that article would carry a lot more weight with a lot more people.

    There’s a name for that particular marketing phenomenon, but I can’t think what it is. A good illustration of it is what happens when Oprah mentions something on her TV show and suddenly there’s a spike in her website traffic.

    Which reminds me:

    I sure wish you would install the plug-in that removes “nofollow” tags so some of what’s being discussed here could find its way out onto the Internet.

    And while you’re at it, could you please also install the “subscribe-to-comments” plugin so that people who would like to be notified by email of new comments could elect that option?

    A “preview” plugin would be really nice, too!

    It’s just a suggestion.

    Regards, Elizabeth …

    P.S. Diana … I hear you when you say “the point of David Meerman Scott’s argument is not to write crap content that gets high search engine rankings. It’s to connect with buyers, prospects, and customers. Anyone can write optimized crap. Few people can write great content that resonates with buyers.”

    But where in the grand scheme of things would you place that 14-year-old kid who got 45 *million* viewers on YouTube?

    As Seth Godin put it … “He wins. You lose. You won’t have more traffic than he will. Ever. And what about your ads? Are you busy sponsoring sites that have less traffic than he does? Sure you are. Why? I thought it was all about reaching the masses… Well, since you’re over that now, since you realize that ‘how many’ is not nearly as valuable as ‘who’, why not put that into practice? Just because something is easy to measure doesn’t mean it’s important.”


  22. Dianna Huff said:

    Elizabeth — Traffic is not the end all and be all. You want traffic that *converts.* (Conversion being whatever you determine it to be.)

    I don’t see myself as a loser because I’m not getting 14.5 million page views.

    I once wrote an article about Jimmy Neutron for my newsletter. All of a sudden, I was getting thousands of visitors a day — they were all *kids* looking for Jimmy Neutron game codes. I removed that article from my Website because that was not the kind of traffic I wanted.

  23. Elizabeth Adams said:

    Hello, Diana …

    Yes, that seems to be part of the point that Seth is making.

    And yet … well, have you seen this? It’s had over 24 million views as of this morning (MO-07-14-08) which, considering it was made by a 15-year-old girl, is pretty amazing.

    I don’t know if it would resonate with “buyers, prospects, and customers,” as you put it, but it certainly appears to be resonating with Regular People.

    And that seems significant, somehow.

    I’m still thinking about it.

    Regards, Elizabeth …


  24. Bob Bly said:

    Elizabeth: I am always suspect of marketers who use fuzzy metrics like “page views.” It may be exciting to have 24 million people see your video. But without conversion or another way to monetize the visits, the girl is doing little more than playing around — which is fine for a 15-year-old but not mortgage-paying adults who have to work for a living.

  25. Dianna Huff said:

    Elizabeth, I work with businesses — the kind that need to make money. If I told them that I could develop something that got 24 million page views but no leads or sales — because “regular people” were viewing it as opposed to customers and prospects — I would be run out of the building.

  26. owen frager said:

    In the end, it’s not about writing volumes of content but content that gets syndicated in just the right bits and bites so it’s compelling in the headlines, email previw panes and search results.

    The ability to write persuasive ad copy using just 130 characters is a big challenge. Especially if you’re up against significant competition.

    Your words must not only persuade; they must stand out from a page full of words all shouting for your customer’s attention. And after your words have convinced the searcher to click through to your site, it’s persuasive words (augmented by graphics) that convince the visitor to become a customer.

    No $25 article is going to accomplish that.

  27. Michael A. Stelzner said:


    Great post. Interestingly enough, I wrote about this topic today on my blog.

    Why The World is Tuning Out (and why you need to change)

    I welcome your comments.


  28. Elizabeth Adams said:

    Hello Bob and Diana …


    Maybe I misspoke myself?

    Many of the marketing techniques and approaches that used to work only just “yesterday” don’t seem to be working very well today, right?

    It’s getting harder and harder to get people’s attention, right?

    Even Mike reports that his friend just canceled his cable TV, right?

    So I find myself wondering … okay, well, so what *is* working? Who *is* getting attention? What are they doing? How are they doing it?

    Or, to put it another way, where do *I* go to get what *I* want? As a Regular Person?

    Just so you know, I *never* go to YouTube! Not of my own volition, anyway. I’ve got too much to do! But if a trusted friend or colleague sends me an email or mentions it in a post, I’ll generally go check it out.

    Now, that’s the viral thing, right?

    My friend tells me about it, I tell you about it, you tell your friend about it, and so on.

    So okay:

    For us adults “who have to work for a living” and “businesses that need to make money,” here’s the deal:

    Nobody cares.

    And that’s per Seth Godin. Nobody cares that you have to work for a living, or that you need to make money.

    Nobody is interested in the information you’re “hoarding” (aka charging money for) because anybody can go out on the internet and get it — or something very like it — for nothing because a lot of smart marketers have figured out that, if they give away all their information for free, then people will be more inclined to trust them and sign up for their membership sites where they can, in effect, apprentice themselves to a master tradesman and thus learn the trade and so on and so forth.

    Enter Stephen Covey and “The Speed of Trust: The One Thing That Changes Everything”.

    “Covey convincingly validates our experience at Dell — that trust has a bottom-line impact on results and that when trust goes up, speed goes up while costs come down. This principle applies not only in our professional relationships with customers, business partners, and team members but also in our personal relationships, which makes this insightful book all the more valuable.” — Kevin Rollins, President and CEO, Dell Inc.

    And broken trust …

    Marketers I haven’t heard from in months started sending me emails when John Reese released his Traffic Secrets 2.0.

    They don’t have anything of any interest to say — not even $25 worth — they just want me to buy that product, so they send me a message that’s nothing more than a thinly-veiled sales pitch.

    One marketer even sent a second message with a subject line that read “I just don’t get it …” and then proceeded to talk about how he sent me a message about TS2 and I didn’t buy and he doesn’t understand how come!

    I have an email folder down at the bottom of my inbox entitled “Possibly Maybe Look At Someday” and those who never send me anything but pitches get their mail routed down to that nethermost hole.

    And now, with the release of TS2, I have a whole bunch more marketers to route down there because if I didn’t I wouldn’t be able to see my regular correspondence !!!

    I’m considering a wholesale unsubscribe. I am so tired of it all …

    Bob … Diana … just so you know, I’m on your side !!!

    I’m 100% persuaded as to the value of excellent content.

    Only … well, if nobody sees it, then what?

    I mean, Mike’s friend isn’t seeing any of the marketing messages on cable now, right?

    And I don’t see 99% of the marketing messages directed to my email, right?

    At least a few people we know are reading blogs like this one, right?

    And millions more — MILLIONS more — are watching videos on YouTube and communicating with each other vociferously behind closed doors on social networking sites, right?

    And here’s the thing:

    They spend money — A LOT of money — on the stuff they want when they want it.

    Word travels at the speed of light along those grapevines about the cool stuff.

    As for us …

    Well, we’re steeped in direct-response-marketing theory and the universe online is trending toward *indirect* marketing.

    The shortest distance between two marketing points is no longer a straight line.

    It’s a curve.

    And we’ve got to retool or die.

    Warmest Regards …


    P.S. Just my 2¢.


  29. Dianna Huff said:


    I don’t know if you work for yourself or for a company, but if you do work for a company and the president told all employees that you all would no longer receive paychecks because the company had given everything away for free, would you still consider that a cool way of doing business?

    I used to work for a small manufacturing company. One day, a customer who owned a company that made biscotti came in to pay for work we had done for him.

    He said, “I am broke. Can we do a trade? I’ll give you a year’s supply of biscotti.”

    My boss (the owner) said, “I can’t pay my employees with biscotti.”

    I’ve never forgotten that.

  30. Bob Bly said:

    Elizabeth: I like you, but you and I are NOT on the same page. You see it as “social media” (indirect) vs. direct marketing. Direct marketing is what makes money. Social media is one of the many methods of generating traffic. But for it to make money, you have to drive that traffic to a page that converts it to leads or orders — direct marketing. If you do not convert traffic and measure metrics, you cannot prove your statement that users “spend a lot of money” in response to social media marketing. Right?

  31. Bob Bly said:

    P.S. Elziabeth, if people can get all the information they need for free on the Internet, why does corporate America spend over $350 billion a year buying content?

  32. Sonia Simone said:

    Content is not information. Content is information turned into a usable, appealing package.

    And incidentally, crappy elance content works about as well as crappy elance copywriting does. Which isn’t to say it can never work. If you have a crummy sales letter for a fantastic product and an incredible offer, it can work pretty well, especially if there’s no competition.

    Similarly, crummy content can work for a topic users are dying to know about, and for which there’s no source of good content. But that is scenario that never lasts very long.

    I do think content is easier to write than sales copy, but weak writing is weak writing.

  33. Elizabeth Adams said:


    Sorry, Bob … I didn’t know you’d responded. I *wish* you would install that WordPress plugin that would let a gurl subscribe to a post so she knows when things have been added to it!

    Anyway, I have a darling little gem to share with you on the subject of “content.”

    It’s an essay by Paul McHenry Roberts …

    “How to Say Nothing in 500 Words”

    It’s wonderful!


    Warmest Regards …



  34. Ken Jansen said:

    Hi Bob,

    This is best written blog I have ever read. I just bought your 3rd edition of The Copywriter’s Handbook. I skimming for the overview before reading and saw your website and pulled it up. Everyone’s comments are though provoking. I agree with Elizabeth’s opinon about consumers looking for other’s opinion on a particular product before buying or continuing to do more research. Thank you. I am looking forward to reading your book.

    Best Wishes,

    Ken Jansen

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